The whisperings of ghosts: Loss, longing, and the return in Stolen Generations stories

Fiona Murphy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
429 Downloads (Pure)


This article examines the telling of ghost stories of Indigenous Australians who were removed from their families during Australia's assimilation era. Known as the Stolen Generations, this group of people were subjected to institutionalisation, adoption, and forced removals from their families, communities and Aboriginal country. In many of my ethnographic encounters with Stolen Generations, I was steadily drawn into their world of ghosts and hauntings. This article reflects on the challenge for the ethnographer in thinking with and through such encounters with the uncanny. It asks how we should approach the ghost as a real entity as well as a metaphorical, interpretative lens through which to understand the transgenerational trauma and suffering inflicted by settler colonial violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332
JournalAustralian Journal of Anthropology
Issue number3
Early online date09 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2018


  • ethnography
  • ghosts
  • haunting
  • Indigenous Australia
  • Stolen Generations
  • uncanny

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology


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